We all pay for pay parking

"It's an inconvenience...For anyone that has a history of coming up to Whistler, it's in the way, it's an intrusion. They have to do something different and inconvenient to the pattern they've had in the past."

- Jeff Coombs - owner of McCoo's and McCoo's Too

It looks like pay parking is here to stay in the day lots.

I suppose it would have been naïve to think that local government would re-think it and give village businesses a break as well as those who have long used the lots as a place to park their cars while they work.

If Whistler's grape-vine, or should I say gripe-vine, is to be believed there will soon be pay parking in all the paved day lots though there could be a discounted rate for local workers.

One can't help but wonder if that will push even more people to seek out the free parking at Creekside or at the lots on Blackcomb Mountain.

It would be wrong to suggest that pay parking took the resort by surprise. It has long been discussed as part of Whistler's Greenhouse Gas reduction strategy and as part of the long-term transportation plan. But that didn't stop over 1,500 people from signing a petition to stop it in its tracks when it first came up in April 2009.

In the big scheme pay parking was to make people think twice about driving their cars to Whistler; instead they should opt for public transit. Those who stayed in their cars would pay for it and remove the burden from the local taxpayer. It was also hoped that parking fees would stop locals from hogging all the best spots underground at the Conference Centre or close to the ski hills.

Sounds grand.

In fact, some argued Whistler was behind the times as many resorts have introduced pay parking to drive people out of their cars. That might work if you had a transit system that got you from one end of town to the other in a timely fashion. And yes, we were all spoiled during the Olympics when it came to bussing.

"Whistler's Comprehensive Transportation Strategy supports our community's commitment to move towards preferred modes of transportation," said Mayor Ken Melamed last June.

"User pay parking is one way of achieving this and of bridging the cost-revenue gap faced by the municipality. User pay parking is equitable and allows the cost of parking to be paid for by drivers, rather than property taxes, while generating revenue to fund community transit service improvements."

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